Mastering Pullman’s future

Plan suggests two-lane Main Street, downtown art pieces, more handicapped parking



Brian Scott, Principal of BDS Planning and Urban Design, says suggested changes in the plan could take $5 million and, spread out over several years, that is manageable. He says it will take a lot more money if city officials decide to build a bypass over Paradise Creek.

Pullman may see an influx of new businesses and changes to the structure of the downtown district if city officials adopt a Master Plan created by BDS Planning and Urban Design.

 Brian Scott, principle of BDS, presented the Master Plan at Tuesday’s city council meeting and Wednesday’s Pullman Planning Commission meeting.

He said the first major part of the master plan would be to change the amount of lanes on East Main Street from three lanes to two.

“We’ve spent a lot of time discussing that and you don’t have the traffic counts to justify three lanes there,” he said. “We think you can reduce the number of lanes which would allow you to make it more people-centric.”

Scott said the changes would include angled parking on the side of the street and a 10-foot bike lane.

He said Pullman has more parking than is necessary and it is not well managed or easily visible.

“Prioritize the on-street parking for customer and visitor uses,” he said. “The business owners, employees and residents should be parking in parking lots that are off of the streets.”

He said there are also not enough handicap spaces downtown, which is an area of concern.

Scott said installing prominent art pieces can bring a sense of excitement and livelihood to the downtown area.

Scott said they have been putting together this plan over the past eight months and have been revising it ever since.

“The consultant team spent two whole days developing a plan,” he said. “One hundred plus people have contributed to this process.”

Scott said there are many things that can be implemented within the city of Pullman which could add to its already prominent heritage and identity.

“There is an abundance of places worth celebrating,” he said. “Making downtown special and unique should be widely promoted.”

Brent Carper, Pullman Planning Commission member, said it would be easy for the Pullman community to install public art with the help of WSU’s fine arts department.

“I like the idea of meeting at a location that is a place of art rather than saying, ‘Yeah I’ll meet you at that business building,’” Carper said.

Scott said another part of the plan is to relocate the bus transfer station to the downtown area.

“This way, the people can interact with downtown instead of being stuck up on that hill where the bus stop is now,” he said. 

Pullman Planning Commission Member, Scott Hodge, asked what kind of new businesses would be proposed in the master plan.

Scott said this would include new retail stores, restaurants, bars and a boutique hotel.

“There could be room for even more development on the north side of the river and up the hill towards the Gladish center,” he said.

Some members of the commission voiced their questions and concerns with Scott after all the information was presented.

Stephanie Rink, Pullman Planning Commission member, said there is not a lot of safety on the sidewalks, which is a concern for children who walk to school.

She asked Scott if he talked to the public safety department about how the plan will implement safety considering the traffic on Main Street and Grand Avenue.

“All throughout this plan we are talking about improving the pedestrian crossing experience,” he said. “We do this with pedestrian favored signals and ‘curb bulb-outs’ on sidewalks to shorten the amount of distance to cross the street.”

Curb bulb-outs are used to extend sidewalks to decrease the length of street pedestrians have to cross. This would increase pedestrian safety, he said.

Rink asked Scott if he has put together a budget for this proposal.

“It’s not free, but it also isn’t a ton of money, and I would start there,” Scott said. “At some point you might want to think about a bypass that would cross the river and that would cost a ton.”

Scott said the first couple of years of development could cost a few hundred thousand dollars.

“If the big improvements are gonna cost five million, that’s gonna seem really crazy in the short run,” he said. “But if you get a lot of things going over five years and there is more activity happening then suddenly, $5 million seems like a reasonable thing.”